Drexel's Areas of Excellence & Opportunity

In developing Drexel’s 2030 Strategic Plan, the Executive Planning Committee identified four primary focus areas for the University — Health, Technology/Engineering, Design and Social Sciences.
Recognizing that these areas would require further refinement, the EPC defined among the Plan’s key initiatives the need to “develop transdisciplinary clusters at the intersections of these sectors to maximally leverage current strengths while generating new opportunities for transdisciplinary education, scholarship, collaboration with external partners, and entrepreneurial engagement.” In March of 2021, the Provost’s Office announced the launch of a process to define these clusters, now called Drexel’s Areas of Excellence and Opportunity (AEOs).

Learn About the AEO Initiative

The AEOs do not exist separately from the characteristics that define us — experiential learning, civic engagement, innovation and entrepreneurship, external partnership, and more — rather, they provide opportunities to build upon and integrate these characteristics. Similarly, the AEOs do not represent an exclusive set of investments, nor are they the only areas of value for the University.

However, to remain a competitive institution in an increasingly challenged industry, we cannot be all things to all people; instead, we must grow in and connect our areas of strength, plant seeds for sustainable growth, and align our resources strategically. This must be done in line with our mission and the imperatives of the Strategic Plan, which will guide the outcomes and metrics of the AEOs (e.g. expanding research impact, delivering cutting-edge curricula, harnessing the power of partnership, etc.).
The process to define AEOs has included extensive review of internal and external data (e.g. academic, labor and market data, federal research investment data and internal enrollment, revenue and performance data and more), as well as focus groups, surveys and interviews with internal and external audiences (e.g. academic and administrative leadership, faculty, professional staff, students, alumni and partners). Initial AEOs were identified and refined based on further discussions with internal and external experts, and a final, prioritized list was developed.

Activating the AEOs will involve both a pilot process and a longer-term planning process. The pilot process focuses on stimulating activity in the near-term, convening our community around select AEOs and providing opportunities for learning and growth. The longer-term planning process will be guided by expert teams in each AEO and will focus on vision and goal setting, inventorying current activities and assets (e.g. facilities, labs, research teams, etc.), and providing recommendations to build impact and reputation in the AEOs. 

Drexel’s 10 AEOs

The 10 AEOs represent areas of strength and opportunity that bridge colleges, schools and activities (e.g. academics, research, external partnership, etc.) and provide opportunities for differentiation and reputation development.

  • Health Innovation
  • Computing, AI and Cyber Security Frontiers
  • Sustainability and Climate Resilience
  • Urban Futures
  • Advanced Materials and Manufacturing
  • Health Equity and Wellness
  • Human-Centered Design
  • Entertainment and Culture
  • Leadership, Learning and Organizational Innovation
  • Neuroscience

Learn More About the AEOs